March 11, 2009 in Features

Carolyn Hax: No response obviously means stop e-mailing

Washington Post
 

Dear Carolyn: About five years ago I began to realize that a woman I dated 25 years earlier was someone I had stronger feelings for than I was mature enough to appreciate at the time. I had questions for her about why we hadn’t blossomed into the kind of relationship I now think we both believe we were destined for.

In the last five years I’ve continued to have those questions, then dreams, etc., which led me to subscribe to a search engine, which provided her address. I wrote her twice and left a voice mail. My messages have been about old friends I bumped into who reminded me of her, what I’ve been doing, and how I’d like to hear from her. That is, nothing too serious or about what’s been on my mind.

I haven’t received an answer. I’ve thought through the reasons she hasn’t corresponded, and why I needed to talk with her, and am still at a loss. Would asking her my questions directly in a letter be a way to coax her to reconnect? Telling her that, apart from this midlife crisis of mine, I’m happily married, successful, and all I want are answers? – A 30-Year-Old Question

Happily married – so, your wife knows of this preoccupation?

Given the ever-increasing availability of ever more powerful search tools, I think we’ve all been forced to accept the idea of our private information as public property.

In spite of this – and, I could argue, emphatically so because of it – our actual selves are nobody’s but ours. We give our time, companionship and affection to the people we choose, and only the people we choose.

You have given your One Who Got Away (OWGA) ample opportunity to invite you in, to share herself and her time. She hasn’t invited you in. To press her further would be not only intrusive, verging on scary – which I’ll explain in a second – but also superfluous. You have her answer already. Apparently you don’t “both” believe you were destined for the kind of relationship you’re thinking.

Here’s why you’re scaring me a little, and therefore, presumably, OWGA: When you ignore an obvious sign that you should stop trying, it leads a person to wonder what exactly will make you stop. That’s the far more important question to put to rest, so please do so. Your current reality is telling you that your 30-year-old memories are messing with your head. Deal with that internally, and not by messing with her.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at 9 a.m. Pacific time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.


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